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Take Five: Rep. Scott Perry

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.  

This week, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., discusses his military service and reciting the Gettysburg Address. Perry, not afraid to show his softer side, also explains why “Out of Africa” is one of his favorite movies.  

Q. You were born in San Diego, so how did you end up in Pennsylvania?  

A. It’s an unflattering story of broken family and a time in the country where women in the working world with children were discouraged.  So my mom went to work for an airline — she couldn’t have children — so she hid my brother and me by putting an ad in the paper and sending us to a family while she was on a trip.  And then she would come and retrieve us.  And flying took her to Florida and that’s where we stayed for a while.  And then from Florida, flying took her to Pennsylvania, which is where I ended up, so that’s kind of how that whole thing happened.  

Q. As an Iraq War veteran and a National Guardsman for more than 30 years, how has your military service contributed to your role in Congress?  

A. First of all, it teaches you to get along with a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds with different perspectives. It forces you, unfortunately, to have patience for the things that you can’t get done because in the military when you’re the commander, so it shall be written, so it shall be done. That’s how it works.  

But when you start working in a different civilian arena, it’s not that way.  And so you either learn that there’s a different way or you fail.  And working in the community, and so on and so forth, outside the military arena, the only way you can get things accomplished is to shed that. For me, what it really does is it highlights the two very different paradigms in the two different organizations of civil society and the military. They do not mix up very well.  

Q. What was your favorite moment of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg last year?  

A.   My favorite moment, quite honestly, when I think back, was my opportunity to recite the Gettysburg Address. … When you start looking at it and the words and where the inflection and the emphasis might be, I found out that it took me maybe 150 times of practicing it until I got it right — to my standard of where I thought it should be to do it justice.  And so when you get it to that point and realize the gravity of each word and how they fit the times of the nation and with each other, it’s really, really something special, which is why it is a great thing.  

Q. I read that during your congressional race you would relax by working on your home, which you mostly built yourself.  How do you relax when you’re in D.C.?  

A. What makes you think I relax when I’m in D.C.?  I guess what I really like to do and it’s not really — it is some relaxation, it’s a little bit of a break from the action — is to go out and run on the mall.  I iPod up, but you know my schedule here usually starts around 6 and ends around 1 or 1:30.  So I’m trying to maximize my time here and there’s not a lot of relaxation.  

Q.  What is your favorite movie and why?  

A. Can I have two? For one single movie in and of itself, it’s “Out of Africa.” For me, that movie shows the differences, just the very visceral difference, between men and women in relationships, and how hard life can be, and also the triumphs of life.  But I also love “Band of Brothers.” But that’s a series of movies, which shows the element of the human struggle and sacrifice and puts a value to everything that we enjoy every moment of every day in this country.

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